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Mahinda warns of Sampanthan becoming Sri Lanka’s Opposition leader

Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa warned that a weakened United National Party (UNP) will result in Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan being appointed Sri Lanka’s Leader of the Opposition, as campaigning continues ahead of next month’s general elections.

Rajapaksa was addressing an election rally in Matara when he claimed that the “constant dispute of the UNP will result in Sampanthan being appointed as the Leader of Opposition”.

“The UNP, that once represented many powerful leaders of the political works, is now weakened,” he claimed. “They are more concerned about the power position of their party, and less about forming a government. The end result of this dispute will result in Mr R. Sampanthan being appointed as the Opposition leader.”

His remarks on Sampanthan come despite the TNA leader praising Rajapaksa, in a lavish tribute to mark the alleged war criminal’s 50 years in parliament. Sampanthan in a letter sent to Rajapaksa, claimed Rajapaksa has “earned for himself the affection and confidence of the people of the country”, and called him a “strong leader” who “should rise to greater heights” by enacting a new Sri Lankan constitution.

Meanwhile, Rajapaksa told Matara on Saturday that he was prepared to form the government and act in accordance with Mahinda Chinthana and President Gotabaya Rajapaksha’s Vision of Prosperity’”.

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